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ST. MORITZ, Switzerland (AP by Erica Bulman)–Bode Miller and the Kostelic siblings got the best of the Austrians in the world championships.
Miller earned the nickname the “King of St. Moritz” after dominating the men’s field. He captured the giant slalom and combined crowns and shared silver in the super-G to become the first American man to win three medals in a world championship.
On the women’s side, Croatian sensation Janica Kostelic seized gold in the giant slalom and combined, while brother Ivica snared the victory in the men’s slalom, marking the first time that siblings have won the same event in the championships.
Austria, the dominant force the last several years, collected nine medals but only three golds between its men and women, with World Cup overall leader Stephan Eberharter winning the super-G 12 years after his first triumph in the event.
Eberharter had raised Austrian hopes, winning the opening race of the two-week event in a classic showdown with rival Hermann Maier, who was making a sensational comeback from an accident that nearly cost him his leg in 2001. Maier, who had only competed in five races since his return after an 18-month break, settled for shared silver with Miller.
But the nation had marginal success in the end, taking only two other gold medals.
Austrian underdog Michael Walchohofer beat out his illustrious teammates to win the downhill for his first career victory, ahead of Norwegian veteran Kjetil-Andre Aamodt, who took the silver for his 12th world championship medal, the most of any man in Alpine skiing history.
Michaela Dorfmeister was the only Austrian woman to win, taking the super-G, while Canadian Melanie Turgeon claimed the prestigious downhill.
Anja Paerson of Sweden won the giant slalom.
The frigid temperatures at the Swiss resort and the consequent grippy, aggressive snow appeared to benefit skiers from colder climates such as North America and the Nordic countries.
Canadians collected two medals and seven top-10 results in St. Moritz, with Allison Forsyth taking bronze in the giant slalom.
Americans collected six medals in all, surpassing their previous best of five, set in 1982 in Schladming, Austria.
The giant slalom and combined marked Miller’s first major international titles. The 25-year-old skier settled for silver in the same events at the Olympics last winter.
Miller, the first American to win the giant slalom world title since Steve Mahre in 1982, wasn’t the only one contributing to the U.S. team’s spoils.
He climbed the giant slalom podium with teammate and friend Erik Schlopy, who took bronze. The pair became the first Americans to win medals in the same event at a world championship, though Americans Billy Kidd and James Heuga finished second and third, respectively, in the slalom at the 1964 Olympics in Innsbruck, Austria, which also counted as the worlds that year.
Earlier, Kirsten Clark and Jonna Mendes finished second and third behind Dorfmeister in the super-G, doubling the American women’s projected haul.
Miller could have become the first skier in 35 years to win three golds at a world championship, after Jean-Claude Killy took four at the 1968 Olympics, which also counted as the worlds that year. However, his slalom let him down once again this season.
“It would have been nice to win another medal but it didn’t happen,” said Miller, who has finished just once on the slalom podium this season, having struggled with his equipment.
However, Miller can take comfort in the fact he is still the first American man to take home two golds.
“It’s tough to really put emphasis on that considering the circumstances,” Miller said. “I won both titles by small margin.
“It’s not enough to create much of a distinguishable difference between medal colors.”
His rivals, however, were quick to applaud him.
“I think he’s a great guy and a great skier,” Ivica Kostelic said. “Anyone who does all four disciplines is a real hero.”
Host Switzerland, Norway and Italy failed to win any gold but still managed to collect four, three and two medals, respectively.
France, which had brought home four Olympic medals from Salt Lake City last winter, suffered a humiliating shutout this time around, as did Germany.
Copyright © 2000 The Associated Press